Just 11 per cent of Greenwich borough’s back streets have been made safer for walkers and cyclists by stopping drivers using them as cut-throughs – a lower proportion than outer boroughs such as Hounslow and Croydon, campaigners have said.
The Healthy Streets Coalition, which campaigns to reduce traffic and eliminate deaths and serious injuries on the roads, said that Greenwich had one of the lowest proportions of streets given over to low-traffic neighbourhoods in London – well behind Croydon on 26 per cent, Southwark on 37 per cent and Hackney on 70 per cent.
In recent years the term “low-traffic neighbourhood” has been applied to streets which have recently had anti-ratrunning measures put in place with planters or cameras. But the coalition, which is made up of groups including Living Streets, the London Cycling Campaign and the road safety charity Roadpeace – is using a broader definition for its map, which has been put together by volunteers.
For Greenwich borough, parts of Thamesmead are counted as a low-traffic neighbourhood as they were built as cul-de-sacs in the 1980s; while the riverside streets in east Greenwich are also counted as they have been blocked to through traffic for decades.
More recent schemes such as the Hills & Vales low-traffic neighbourhood in west Greenwich, and later anti-ratrunning measures in east Greenwich, have also been included. These were funded as part of a government scheme to prevent a car-led recovery after the pandemic.
The volunteers then compared their data with Transport for London’s mapping of streets which would be suitable for low-traffic neighbourhoods, and found that just 11 per cent of Greenwich streets were covered – bettered by outer boroughs such as Hillingdon (12 per cent), Barnet (13 per cent), Hounslow (31 per cent) and Merton (34 per cent).
In Lewisham, 16 per cent of streets were covered – many of them in Lee and Hither Green – while Bexley had the lowest rating on the Healthy Streets Scorecard, with just 4 per cent.
The coalition wants to see all suitable streets in every borough covered by a low-traffic neighbourhood.
Greenwich’s most suitable areas for low-traffic neighbourhoods, according to TfL data taking into account schools, deprivation and low car ownership, are Charlton and Woolwich; however, the council opted for the Hills and Vales scheme to combat drivers using back roads near Greenwich Park to cut between the A2 and Greenwich town centre.
However, that scheme was then followed by problems with traffic and antisocial behaviour from drivers switching to east Greenwich, and the scheme was watered down to include a rush-hour one-way route. The future of the Hills and Vales scheme, and other low-traffic plans in the borough, will be decided imminently.
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A coalition spokesperson said: “We remain firmly committed to campaigning for borough-wide LTNs in all London boroughs. Low traffic schemes have a hugely positive impact, reducing traffic congestion, pollution, road danger, carbon emissions and noise and increasing healthy, active travel.
“These schemes are relatively inexpensive to implement and we are looking for strong action from all London boroughs in the next 12 months to reduce overall volumes of motor traffic on all roads, and introduce more LTNs, as well as School Streets for all primary and secondary schools, borough-wide 20mph speed limits, controlled parking and protected cycle lanes on main roads.”
The coalition also called for action on main roads including “low-traffic high streets”, citing recent changes to Stoke Newington Church Street in north London – which has had a bus gate installed – as an example of what can be done.
“Low-traffic high streets and main roads are also vital, not just because people live, work, shop and go to school on main roads, but also because reducing traffic boosts the high street economy,” it said.
“We also want strong action on main roads and we’ve been particularly delighted to see the recent introduction of bus gates, which allow buses and cycles through but not private cars.
“Bus gates deliver a low-traffic high street which is good for business, but also speedier buses and we hope to see many more of them very soon.”
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